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Federal Register: October 19, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 201)
Pages 55811-55812

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR Parts 72 and 75

RIN 1219-AA74

Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure of Underground Coal Miners

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Labor.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of hearings; and close of record.

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SUMMARY: MSHA is announcing public hearings regarding the Agency's proposed rule addressing diesel particulate matter exposure of underground coal miners, which was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 1998. These hearings will be held under section 101 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The rulemaking record will remain open until February 16, 1999.

DATES: All requests to make oral presentations for the record should be submitted at least 5 days prior to each hearing date. However, you do not have to give a written request to be provided an opportunity to speak. The public hearings are scheduled to be held at the following locations on the dates indicated:

ADDRESSES: Send requests to make oral presentations to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Room 631, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984.

The hearings will be held at the following locations:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol J. Jones, Acting Director; Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances; MSHA; 703-235-1910.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 9, 1998, (63 FR 17492), MSHA published a proposed rule to reduce the risks to underground coal miners of serious health hazards that are associated with exposure to high concentrations of diesel particulate matter (dpm). DPM is a very small particle in diesel exhaust. Underground miners are exposed to far higher concentrations of this fine particulate than any other group of workers. The best available evidence indicates that such high exposures put these miners at excess risk of a variety of adverse health effects, including lung cancer.

The proposed rule for underground coal mines would require that mine operators install and maintain high-efficiency filtration systems on certain types of diesel-powered equipment. Underground coal mine operators would also be required to train miners about the hazards of dpm exposure.

The comment period was scheduled to close on August 7, 1998. However, due to requests from the mining community, the Agency extended the comment period for an additional 60 days, until October 9, 1998.

MSHA will hold pubic hearings to receive additional public comment. The hearings will address any issues relevant to the rulemaking.

The hearings will be conducted in an informal manner by a panel of MSHA officials. Although formal rules of evidence or cross examination will not apply, the presiding official may exercise discretion to ensure the orderly progress of the hearings and may exclude irrelevant or unduly repetitious material and questions.

Each session will begin with an opening statement from MSHA, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to make oral presentations. The hearing panel may ask questions of speakers. At the discretion of the presiding official, the time allocated to speakers for their presentations may be limited. In the interest of conducting productive hearings, MSHA will schedule speakers in a manner that allows all points of view to be heard as effectively as possible.

Verbatim transcripts of the proceedings will be prepared and made a part of the rulemaking record. Copies of the hearing transcripts will be make available for pubic review.

MSHA will accept additional written comments and other appropriate data for the record from any interested party, including those not presenting oral statements. Written comments and data submitted to MSHA will be included in the rulemaking record. To allow for the submission of post-hearing comments, the record will remain open until February 16, 1999. This provides ten months from publication for the public to comment on this proposed rule.

Dated October 15, 1998.
Marvin W. Nichols, Jr.,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 98-27976 Filed 10-16-98; 8:45 am]
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